For the first time in my adult lifetime, the Bills are prepping for divisional weekend.
There is some poetic about two guys, doubted by all the “experts” who made their NFL debut in the same game, fighting for a chance to got to their first AFC Championship.
Baltimore and Buffalo come into the game equally hot teams. This is really the story of two very similar teams. Young superstar quarterbacks, strong defenses, and playing with a lot to prove. What are the keys to stopping Lamar? How do you beat the Ravens defense, what has changed between 2019 and now?
Beat the Blitz
- Baltimore’s defense thrives on chaos. They blitz at a higher rate than anyone in football. If you remember last year, Baltimore brought the house at Josh, seemingly every play. Not much has changed about the Baltimore defense from now to then. But Josh is a different Quarterback. Last year’s Baltimore defense flustered Josh. This year, when Josh Allen is Blitzed, he is completing 66% of his passes, with 18 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions, and a league best 1800 yards. To be successful Saturday, offensive communication and Josh’s pre snap reads are going to have to be correct. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic in this match up. Josh has been a man coverage shredder all year, and the Ravens may lack the ability to match in the Bills three and four wide receiver sets. The Bills have been on a tear against good defenses.
- Lamar is not a player you can “stop.” He is going to, at some point, break off a run. He is going to scramble around and find someone running free downfield. The question isn’t how can you stop him? It is how can you limit him? It starts with disciplined defense. Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are going to need to play smart defense when reading the backfield. The Bills defensive line will need to have gap integrity. The best way to contain Jackson is when you can get your defensive ends up field and get your defensive tackles to not be blown off the ball. It is easy to say but the only way to limit big plays will be consistent play out of the front 7. Expect the Bills to keep playing base nickel defense. Taron Johnson has been used as an extra linebacker in run defense and could be a key to limiting the Lamar runs.
The Devin Singletary Game?
- There has been A LOT of talk among fans about who will get Zack Moss’s carries. The answer to that could be Devin Singletary. Fans easily forget how much of a weapon Singletary was in 2019. In two of the three games he carried the ball 20 or more times, he had over 4.14 yards/carry in two of them. For the entirety of the season, serving as the primary back, he averaged over 5 yards a carry. This is not saying the Bills are game planning to be run heavy. But, if the Bills can build a lead, they will want to control the ball and keep Lamar off the field. Singletary needs to take on the closer role they lost in Zack Moss. Simply put, getting Singletary back in a work horse position in this offense, could be the key to unlocking 2019 him again.